This was inspired by a story that my students wrote.
“The Pizza Man’s Problem”
adapted into a play by Evan Baughfman
Synopsis: When his automatic pizza machine breaks, the owner of a pizzeria must find the self-confidence to make his food from scratch.
Pizza Man – owner of a pizzeria; lacks self-confidence
Dad – patriarch of a hungry family
Mom - matriarch of a hungry family
Maribel - a hungry girl
Bryan - a hungry boy
Mechanic – the family’s helpful neighbor
The Pizza Man is in his pizzeria, scrubbing down a table.
Pizza Man: (to himself) I am the Pizza Man, that’s who I am. I am the Pizza Man, that’s who I am…
A family of four enters the Pizza Man’s shop.
Dad: Hello, Mr. Pizza Man. We would like a large pizza, please.
Pizza Man: Sure, my good senor! I will have your large pizza pie done right away, sir!
Pizza Man: What kinds of toppings would you like on it?
Dad: What would you like, Maribel?
Maribel: Scrambled eggs!
Pizza Man: Ah, yes! Scrambled eggs—a good choice!
Dad: Bryan, what’s your topping choice, son?
Bryan: I want Jolly Ranchers!
Pizza Man: Of course! Scrambled eggs and Jolly Ranchers—a perfect combination!
Dad: My wife would also like to add a topping.
Pizza Man: Not a problem!
Mom: Some pepperoni, too, please.
Pizza Man: Pepperoni on a pizza? That is a strange request! But I will allow it! I’ll be back in a jiffy with your delicious pizza pie!
The Pizza Man disappears into the back of his shop. The family waits, impatiently.
Mom: That pizza sure is taking long.
Kids: (whiny) We’re huuuuuuungry!
Dad: Let’s try to be patient. It said online that this is the best pizza place in town.
Mom: I think maybe we should leave.
Dad: (shouting into the back of the shop) Hello? Excuse me? Mr. Pizza Man? What’s the hold-up?
The Pizza Man appears, sad. He holds a pizza box and puts it on the table.
Pizza Man: (on the verge of tears) I am afraid I have some very bad news.
Mom: What is it? There’s something wrong with our pizza, isn’t there?
Pizza Man: I didn’t want to tell you when I first saw you, but…My automatic pizza machine is broken! It broke this morning!
Maribel: What’s an automatic pizza machine?
Pizza Man: It is like an automatic taco machine that automatically makes tacos with just the push of a few buttons. Except, my automatic pizza machine makes pizza, not tacos.
Bryan: Why don’t you just bake a pizza the old-fashioned way?
Pizza Man: Mama mia! I can’t do it!
Dad: You can’t?
Pizza Man: I can’t!
Mom: Let me get this straight. You can’t bake the old-fashioned way?
Pizza Man: That is right! I cannot!
Maribel: Really? You can’t?
Pizza Man: I can’t! It has been so long since I’ve done things the old-fashioned way, I have forgotten how! I just tried, and what I made is absolutely inedible! Here, have a look!
He passes the pizza box around.
Mom: That’s a pizza?
Bryan: I think I’m going to be sick!
Maribel: Ewww! Get that out of my sight!
Dad: What is this thing, Pizza Man?
The Pizza Man throws the pizza box aside like it’s a piece of trash.
Pizza Man: I know, I know! I am so ashamed! It’s just…the automatic pizza machine makes things so easy! All I have to do is put in the ingredients and press a few buttons…Then, voila! A delicious pizza pie is made!
Mom: But...doesn’t that make you kind of a “fraud”?
Pizza Man: Please, do not make me feel any worse than I already do!
Maribel: Mom, Dad…Isn’t our neighbor a mechanic?
Bryan: Yeah, give him a call, and maybe he can fix the machine!
Dad: Good thinking, kids.
Pizza Man: Oh, really? That would be great!
Dad: (pulls out a phone) Hold on a moment while I make this call.
Pizza Man: I’m really sorry about this.
Mom: You’re lucky that we were craving a scrambled-egg-Jolly-Rancher-and-pepperoni pizza!
Maribel: And that we’re too lazy to go somewhere else!
Dad: The mechanic is on his way.
Pizza Man: Oh, thank you very much!
Dad: Don’t thank me. Thank him. He said he’s leaving his daughter’s quinceanera to be here, and that he’ll be here right away.
The mechanic walks in, holding a toolbox.
Family: (waving) Hiiiii, neighbor!
Mechanic: Hello. (to the Pizza Man) Where’s this machine that needs fixing?
Pizza Man: Oh, thank you for coming! Follow me!
Mechanic: Just point me in the right direction. I work better when I’m alone.
Pizza Man: Okay. (points) The machine is back there.
The mechanic disappears in the back. LOUD NOISES are heard off-stage.
Pizza Man: It sounds like he is making progress.
Mechanic: (off-stage) No, no, noooooooo!
The mechanic returns.
Mechanic: This is the most difficult part of my job. Sir, I’m sorry to say that your automatic pizza machine will never make pizza pies again.
Pizza Man: (falling to his knees) Noooooooooo!
Mechanic: I did all I could, I swear. But this was one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen. Worse even than the Domino’s Incident of 2008 or the Great Pizza Hut Debacle of 2012.
Pizza Man: How much do I owe you?
Mechanic: Nothing. The memories of this job are payment enough. Good luck.
The mechanic leaves.
Family: (waving) Byyyyyye, neighbor!
Pizza Man: Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to use my life savings to buy a new automatic pizza machine. There goes my retirement…
Maribel: No, Pizza Man! You can make a pizza from scratch, just like in the old days!
Pizza Man: No! I can’t!
Bryan: Yes, you can! Concentrate!
Pizza Man: I can’t, I tell you!
Mom: There is no “can’t”! There is only “do”!
Pizza Man: Please! Don’t make me! I just can’t do it!
Dad: We believe in you, Mr. Pizza Man. Right, family?
Family: Yeah! (they start a chant) The Pizza Man can…The Pizza Man can…The Pizza Man can…
Pizza Man: Fine. Yes. I remember now. That old feeling is back. It’s called “confidence”. I just need to be brave enough to try it again.
The Pizza Man closes his eyes.
Pizza Man: (to himself) I am the Pizza Man, that’s who I am. I am the Pizza Man, that’s who I am. (more confident now) I AM THE PIZZA MAN, THAT’S WHO I AM!
He raises a fist to the sky.
Pizza Man: I will go make you your pizza pie!
Family: (clapping) Hooray!
Pizza Man rushes off. Soon, he returns with a new pizza box.
Pizza Man: Look at this! I made a delicious pizza pie the old-fashioned way! (he pantomimes the steps) First, I kneaded the dough! I then spread out the sauce! After that, I sprinkled on some cheese! Next, I added your toppings! Finally, I baked it all in my oven!
Dad: We knew you could do it!
Maribel: It smells so good!
Bryan: My mouth is watering!
Mom: You’re the real deal, Pizza Man!
Pizza Man: Thank you, strange family, for having faith in me and pushing me to be my best!
Dad: (hands the Pizza Man money) No, thank you. Come on, family. Let’s go finally eat this delicious, handmade pizza pie.
The family leaves.
The Pizza Man holds his money high in triumph.
PIZZA MAN: (LOUDER THAN EVER) I AM THE PIZZA MAN, THAT’S WHO I AM!